The Miami Heat kicked off their 2013 training camp Tuesday in the Bahamas, because of course they did, officially kicking off their attempt at back-to-back-to-back NBA titles, or as many are terming it, "Three-Heat." The team largely returns most of the same key components that led it to the past two championships, while adding a couple of interesting pieces in often-injured former first overall pick center Greg Oden and former Heat second overall pick Michael Beasley to the fold.
Coming off a 2012-13 campaign, a season that included a 27-game winning streak, victories in 53 of their last 61 games, and an eventual third franchise title, the Heat will look to cement themselves as an inarguable member of the "Dynasty Club," one of the precious few teams that can be entered in the debate as the best team ever assembled.
Though not many questions remain in terms of who will be on the roster, many questions do remain about how it will perform, all leading back to the overall goal of staying at the top of the NBA totem pole. Let's take a look at a couple of the most important things to watch this season.
Will LeBron James have the motivation to keep getting better?
Apparently LeBron has been working on a secret facet of his game this off-season (some have speculated it's his free throw shooting), and that just proves what we already knew -- LeBron isn't going to settle. Every season LeBron gets just a bit better, in turn making the Heat better, and that's exactly what the team will need this season with teams like the Pacers, Bulls, and Nets themselves improving quiet a bit this off-season. My money is on the LeBron, you can have the field.
Will Dwyane Wade remain healthy?
Can you believe it's been eleven years now? Me neither. Dwyane Wade is entering his eleventh season, possibly with more under pressure than ever. It's no secret Wade's health play a major role in the success of the Miami Heat, but this year it means even more. Mike Miller, amnestied this summer, was a luxurious Wade insurance policy the team could no longer afford, so in the event Wade's knees act up, his replacing would cause more problems than it did in the past. The Heat have plenty of talent to support LeBron if Wade is missing, but not enough to repeat if the franchises leading scorer is absent for an extended period of time. Couple that with the fact that Wade's health should play a major role in LeBron's decision this summer, and it all adds up to Wade's 2013 health being one of the most important things to watch for this season.
Will Chris Bosh dedicate himself to rebounding?
The Heat are a better team when Chris Bosh is active down low, but it comes and goes, sometimes vanishing for weeks at a time. Last season Bosh averaged a career low 6.8 rebounds a game, and at times it seemed the team succeeded in spite of his poor play. Make no mistake, Chris Bosh is an hugely important part of this Miami Heat team, which is exactly why the team is so much better when he is active down low.
How will Coach Spoelstra tweak the teams style of play?
Ever year Erik Spoelstra takes a piece of another team and incorporates it into how he coaches the Heat. Whether it be a fast-paced philosophy like Chip Kelly's at Oregon, or tips on how to repeat and stay on that top level from Nick Saban at Alabama, Coach Spo isn't afraid to mix and match the knowledge he seeks out, one of the reasons he is one of the best in the business. It's at the point where other teams are coming to HIM for pointers, something long time Heat fans could have never imagined when the young relatively unknown assistant coach took the steering wheel from Pat Riley.
Can Birdman stay doing Birdman things?
It's pretty hard to imagine that Chris Andersen was available for the taking by any team in the NBA early last season, but that was indeed the case when the Heat decided to sign him. When he first got to the team expectations were low. Could he give the team five good minutes a game? That happened the first night. Could he be a regular rotation player, providing fifteen or so minutes of big man energy off the bench? He did that the first week. Would he fit in the Miami Heat's family oriented close locker room? The guys loved him. So now the question is can he keep it up, can you provide that same intensity over an entire season? It will be fun to watch, whatever way it goes, nothing is ever ordinary with the Bird.
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